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Ways to make extra money to ease financial strain

Make your own stimulus check
Make your own stimulus check

Another stimulus check may be the only way that many Americans are able to pay their bills.

A new survey released Wednesday finds six in 10 Americans said they need another economic impact payment in order to make ends meet. And, 82% of those people were laid off or furloughed, according to the report by MagnifyMoney, a personal finance site owned by LendingTree.

Congress adjourned for summer recess without reaching a deal about the next stimulus package. While Democrats and Republicans have both called for $1,200 payments in their legislative proposals, for millions of Americans that may not be enough – and a final decision on the stimulus package may not come for several more weeks.

"There are over 3 million people who have requested mortgage forbearance, millions who have asked for credit card deferments and more than 30 million people receiving unemployment benefits," said Bruce McClary of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, which has counselors available for free for those facing financial hardship. "There's a tremendous need for another stimulus payment ... but whether it's $1,000 or $2,000, it's still not enough for all of their needs." 

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Many financial advisors suggest people also look for ways to make extra money to ease their financial strain.

"We're trying to encourage people to use what they have to earn extra money," said New York-based investment adviser Gamal Walker of 4Sight Advisors. "There are all kinds of creative ways right now that can facilitate bringing incremental income."

Here are a few options to help you craft your own stimulus check: 

1. Sell your stuff online

Collect items around your home that are in good condition that you no longer need or want. Furniture, top-brand clothing, household appliances, laptops and tablets may be some of the best sellers right now.

Try selling those items on an online marketplace, such as Decluttr, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Mercari or Poshmark. 

2. Rent out your car

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

You may not be comfortable taking on a part-time gig with Lyft or Uber driving around other people in your car. But would you consider renting out your own vehicle?

If it's just parked on the street or sitting in your garage or driveway, consider letting someone else use it and paying for the privilege. Check out peer-to-peer car sharing apps like Getaround and Turo. 

3. Review car and home insurance policies

Many car insurance companies have already reduced premiums, but you could cut your insurance costs even further.

Research shows bundling car and home insurance policies can reduce premiums by 15% to 20%. Raising your deductible can also cut insurance costs.

Just be sure that you have money saved to cover that deductible if you have a claim. 

4. Sign up for a cash-back credit card

Getty Images

Compare cash-back credit cards, especially if you're someone who likes to be rewarded for your spending. You're less likely to rack up air and hotel points or use those points during this pandemic, but you could earn some extra cash based on your purchases.

With cash-back cards, you'll generally get back 1% to 2% of what you spend. Some let you earn more for purchases in certain categories, like groceries and gas.

Plus, if the card issuer has a bonus offer, you could earn another $100 or more, depending on how much you spend within the first few months of having the card. 

5. Review state and federal tax withholding

The extended 2020 tax filing season ended less than a month ago, so reviewing your tax withholding may be the last thing on your mind. However, lowering state and federal taxes withheld from your earned income could add meaningful dollars to your budget. (Remember, unemployment benefits are also taxable.)

You can make changes to your federal withholding by submitting a new W4 Form to your employer — or a W4V Form for tax withholding on your unemployment benefits. 

"Managing your payroll tax deductions is an excellent way to fine tune your budget so you can get more money out of it," McClary said. "This is a great opportunity to save a lot and get more money in your pocket."

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